Real Time Evaluation on Emergency Drought Situation Response in Kenya

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Global Emergency Group (GEG) and Centre for Humanitarian Change (CHC) conducted a Real Time Evaluation of UNICEF’s drought response from August 2016 to December 2017 in Kenya with the overall purpose of strengthening both UNICEF’s current and future programming based on real-time feedback and learning. The RTE process comprised a thorough desk review, field visits, three interim report presentations, a participatory workshop with key stakeholders, and a final report. The intended audience for the RTE is the UNICEF Kenya Country Office. It was found that UNICEF response was relevant in most areas in relation to nutrition level facility interventions, but could be even more relevant if UNICEF applied a more strategic and specific approach while assessing and addressing the effects of the drought on water access in each area. UNICEF responded and addressing the deteriorating nutrition needs prior to the Government of Kenya declaration of emergency. RTE data collection demonstrated that the UNICEF nutrition response evolved to match the changing needs. Scaling-up the outreach response was limited by the reality of resource mobilization, stewardship by all stakeholders and lack of outreach strategy prior to the scale up of the response. The RTE found that the assistance UNICEF provide, especially in the nutrition and health sectors, and to a lesser extent the WASH efforts, to support system strengthening directly contributed to the government’s capacity to lead and manage the drought response.A strategic recommendation of the RTE is that UNICEF should expand and deepen this assistance to the government, and ensure that governance systems are risk informed. The drought response capacity is at all levels from the national level to the community level.


In 2016, Kenya began showing signs of an oncoming drought. Upon the official declaration of a drought emergency in February 2017, the UN issued a flash appeal and UNICEF scaled up their response that started in 2016. As such, the UNICEF Kenya Country Office requested that an RTE to be conducted to monitor and enhance UNICEF’s response efforts throughout the most affected areas of Kenya.

The prolonged exposure to drought and continuous, increasingly severe water shortages led to acute livelihood pressures which, in turn, brought about increasing safety problems and an exacerbation of the already critical food insecurity, particularly for the predominantly pastoralist population. The pressures on livelihoods eventually resulted in increasingly negative impacts on health status and alarming prevalence of malnutrition among the population in the affected counties, including global acute malnutrition (GAM) rates of over 30 percent in Mandera (MAN), Turkana (TK) and Marsabit (MAR) counties.

After the Long Rains Assessment in the middle of 2016, it was estimated that 1.25 million people were acutely food insecure and over 320,000 women and children required services for the management of acute malnutrition. In the first quarter of 2017, this had increased to an estimated 2.6 million people across 23 counties in Kenya who were acutely food insecure and over 380,000 women and children requiring nutrition services. This estimate increased to 3.4 million by August 2017 and more than 405,000 requiring nutrition services and was expected to increase further during the course of the last quarter of 2017 and into early 2018

The focus of this RTE is on UNICEF’s particular role in the drought response that took place during 2016 and 2017. UNICEF Kenya Country Office (KCO) responded to the disaster in collaboration with other UN agencies and national partners, including the Government's National Drought Management Authority (NDMA)



Global Emergency Group (GEG) and Centre for Humanitarian Change (CHC) conducted a Real Time Evaluation of UNICEF’s drought response in Kenya with the overall purpose of strengthening both UNICEF’s current and future programming based on real-time feedback and learning. This evaluation focused primarily on WASH, Nutrition and Health in the drought affected counties of Garissa, Tana River, Marsabit, Mandera, Turkana, and Kilifi. The RTE considered the extent to which the lessons learned were applied from the 2011 IASC RTE of the Humanitarian Response to the Horn of Africa Drought Crisis.

The primary purpose of this RTE is to inform and directly influence UNICEF’s ongoing WASH, nutrition and health response in the drought affected areas of Kenya with an emphasis on operational decision-making and effective collective learning. While the RTE primarily addresses the learning aspect, it also provides an important accountability tool (a) to supported communities by assessing the appropriateness, timeliness and relevance of the intervention, and (b) to donors by considering the timely release of funds.

More specifically, the evaluation focused on the following OECD-DAC criteria for evaluation:

  • Criteria 1 – Relevance/Appropriateness of the response and accountability to affected communities;
  • Criteria 2 - Timeliness of action;
  • Criteria 3 - Sustainability/Connectedness of the response to the development agenda.

UNICEF evaluation database: https://www.unicef.org/evaluation/reports#/detail/808/real-time-evaluation-on-emergency-drought-situation-response-in-kenya-2017


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